Monday, December 28, 2009

Yet Another Libel Against Poe

Frances Sargent Osgood
In 1898, Rufus Griswold's son William published what he claimed was the text of a letter Frances S. Osgood wrote to William's father in 1850. The letter reads:
"I trust you will write that life of Poe. I will do as you wished:- I will write, as far as is proper, in a letter to you, my reminiscences of that year, and try to make it interesting and dignified, and you in introducing it by one single sentence can put down at once my envious calumniators. You have the proof in Mrs. Poe's letter to me, and in his to Mrs. Ellet, either of which would fully establish my innocence in a court of justice-certainly hers would. Neither of them, as you know, were persons likely to take much trouble to prove a woman's innocence, and it was only because she felt that I had been cruelly and shamefully wronged by her mother and Mrs. E[llet] that she impulsively rendered me that justice. She, Mrs. Poe, felt grieved that she herself had drawn me into the snare by imploring me to be kind to Edgar-to grant him my society and to write to him, because, she said, I was the only woman he knew who influenced him for his good, or, indeed, who had any lasting influence over him. I wish the simple truth to be known,-that he sought me, not I him. It is too cruel that I, the only one of those literary women who did not seek his acquaintance-for Mrs. Ellet asked an introduction to him and followed him everywhere, Miss Lynch begged me to bring him there and called upon him at his lodgings. Mrs. Whitman besieged him with valentines and letters long before he wrote or took any notice of her, and all the others wrote poetry and letters to him,- It is too cruel that I should be singled out after his death as the only victim to suffer from the slanders of his mother. I never thought of him till he sent me his Raven and asked Willis to introduce him to me, and immediately after I went to Albany, and afterwards to Boston and Providence to avoid him, and he followed me to each of those places and wrote to me, imploring me to love him, many a letter which I did not reply to until bis wife added her entreaties to his and said that I might save him from infamy, and her from death, by showing an affectionate interest in him."

For many years, this astonishing letter was accepted by Edgar Allan Poe's biographers--even the well-respected "The Poe Log" fell for it--despite the fact that there were, from the start, obvious reasons for doubting its authenticity. For one, there is the highly suspicious fact that we only have what William Griswold published. The actual manuscript of this letter--or even any sort of copy-text--has never surfaced. The text does not read as any sort of genuine letter--rather, it is all heavy-handed exposition, blatantly designed to put a particular story "on the record." And, of course, this letter of apology Virginia Poe supposedly wrote Osgood was never seen, or even mentioned anywhere else, by anyone--including Osgood and Rufus Griswold.

Despite all these indications that the letter was a clumsy hoax, its ridiculous assertions went unchallenged for nearly a century. Then, in 1990, Burton R. Pollin, in the December issue of the journal "Poe Studies" ("'Saroni's Musical Times': Documents Linking Poe, Osgood, and Griswold") revealed that Osgood's "Poe reminiscences," which Griswold incorporated in his "Life of Poe," were not written in 1850 for Griswold's use, as this letter (and Griswold's "Life of Poe") indicated. Rather, Osgood's "reminiscences" first appeared in an obscure periodical called "Saroni's Musical Times" in December 1849. Thus, this "Osgood to Griswold" letter was shown to be, as Pollin rather reluctantly had to concede, "a fabrication." (Considering that Pollin himself had previously used this same bogus letter as source material, one presumes he felt embarrassed for having been hoaxed.)

We do not know who truly wrote this letter--this cheap scam that has caused such damage not only to Poe's reputation, but Virginia's as well. (The image it paints of Poe's cringing ninny of a wife writing Osgood letters seeking forgiveness for having begged her "to be kind to Edgar," has a peculiarly nauseating air.) The most likely culprit, however, is the person who revealed this letter to the world, William Griswold himself. Griswold the Younger was obsessed--I do not think this is too strong a word--with trying to rehabilitate his father's seedy reputation, which he appears to have seen as a black mark against himself. His way of doing this was to promote not only the myth that Griswold the Elder had been entirely truthful about Poe, but that the late poet had been even worse than his literary executor had let on. What better way of doing this than by having Frances Osgood--whom everyone considered Poe's admirer--reveal her true disdain for him? Also, I don't believe Rufus Griswold could have written this letter, because it had always been part of his agenda to depict Osgood as Poe's close friend and defender, not his defamer. All in all, I think it probable that William inherited his dad's predilection for forgery.

Blatant lie though it is, this letter still has its interesting aspects. The document depicts Osgood as anxious to counter a widespread belief that she conducted a disgraceful pursuit of Poe--a claim that, according to the letter, was propagated by Elizabeth Ellet and Maria Clemm.

It would be good to know for certain if Mrs. Clemm had joined Ellet in making this accusation against Osgood. If Osgood had truly been Poe's friend, Mrs. Clemm would hardly have "slandered" her, and if there had been anything improper between Frances and Poe, his mother-in-law would hardly want to spread stories about their relationship that would denigrate his marriage to her daughter. According to Sarah Helen Whitman, Clemm and Osgood disliked each other, although she unfortunately failed to say why. If Mrs. Clemm had accused Osgood of causing trouble for Poe by making a shameless pest of herself over him, that would certainly explain the otherwise inexplicable enmity Osgood and Griswold had towards her.

The animosity shown towards Virginia Poe in this letter--strangely reminiscent of the attitude regarding her found in Elizabeth Ellet's 1846 letter to Osgood--is also significant. Surely, William Griswold--or whoever forged this letter--would not have expressed such a negative attitude towards Poe's wife unless they knew Osgood and/or Rufus Griswold had had some reason to resent her.

The question of who forged this letter is not as important as the question of why it was done. Certainly, the writer of this letter did so in order to counter something they knew had been widely known. One would particularly like to know why Osgood is made to say that this mythical letter from Virginia would "fully establish my innocence in a court of justice." It brings to mind Hiram Fuller's 1847 claim that Poe was contemplating legal action against certain "literary ladies." I am also reminded of an odd statement made by Rufus Griswold's friend Charles Briggs in 1877. Briggs claimed that Griswold suppressed certain "startling" evidence he possessed proving the "utter contempt" Poe really felt towards certain ladies who had been under the delusion that he had admired them. Was Mrs. Osgood among these ladies? Certainly, she was the only woman acquainted with Poe whom Griswold would have motive to protect.

From the tone of this spurious "Osgood to Griswold" letter, it seems logical that the "something" it was intended to refute was the fact that Maria Clemm and other "envious calumniators" had "singled out" Osgood for her intrusive and offensive behavior regarding Poe. If this was the case, it would completely demolish the conventional wisdom regarding the Osgood/Poe relationship.

Friday, December 25, 2009

...And to All a Good Night!

Admit it. You're all hoping Santa has brought you one of these this year.

Complete with removable plastic raven!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Coded Poe

Here is an unusual blog essay about Poe that's worth checking out. Freemasons, "Eureka," and even a cameo appearance by Albert Einstein!

(By the way, do we know for certain that that Einstein quote is authentic? I hope so, as that's one of the best lines I've ever read about Poe.)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Virginia Clemm Poe Redux

Anyone who has read through this humble little blog (assuming anyone has,) will get the hint that, in general, I do not have an exalted opinion of the women associated with Edgar Allan Poe's life. Fanny, Annie, Sarah Helen, Sarah Elmira, Mary, Marie Louise, Eliza...(I decline to dwell even momentarily on Jane Locke and Stella Lewis...) If Hell ever decides to stage its own version of "The Dating Game," these ladies would make the ideal line-up of contestants.

From the time I first became seriously involved in studying Poe's life, the one exception I have found in this ghastly parade is the only one among the lot he actually married. And, naturally, she has gotten the worst press of them all.

It all traces back--as do many of the nuttier elements of Poe biography--to Susan Archer Talley Weiss, the Berserker of American literary history. For whatever dark, inscrutable reasons of her own, Weiss--who never met Virginia Poe, and never knew anyone who had known Poe's wife at all well--was obsessed with convincing posterity that Virginia, to the end of her days, remained a childlike, sexless, simpleminded creature who bored her brilliant husband out of his wits and in to ardent pursuits of other women, in a desperate attempt to find the fulfillment he was denied in his "fatal marriage."

This dismal picture is directly contradicted by those who were actually acquainted with Virginia. These first-hand witnesses all describe a beautiful, accomplished, charming young woman of great virtue and integrity, who won over everyone in her acquaintance, and who was clearly adored by her husband. Poe's friend Mayne Reid, who disputed the legend of the poet's great attraction for women, stated that Poe's lack of romantic appeal did not matter, as "it was enough for one man to be beloved by one such woman as he had for his wife" Even Thomas Dunn English, who rarely had a good word for anyone other than himself, praised Virginia's "air of refinement and good breeding." George Lippard warmly remembered Virginia as a "pure and beautiful woman" who had brought happiness to Poe's home. Thomas C. Clarke described her as an "exquisite picture of patient loveliness," despite "the hours of sickness, which rendered so much of Virginia's life a source of painful anxiety to all who had the pleasure of knowing her." Elizabeth Oakes Smith wrote that when Virginia was too ill to accompany Poe to social gatherings, he clearly missed his wife's presence: "he was fond of naming her," Smith recalled, "and dwelling upon her loveliness of character." A man who was Virginia's neighbor when they were both children described her years later as a "fascinating little brunette" who had been his first love. Poe himself, on hearing of James Russell Lowell's marriage in 1844, wrote him that "I can wish you no better wish than that you may derive from your marriage as substantial happiness as I have derived from mine." Soon after Virginia's first hemorrhage in January 1842, Poe wrote to his close friend Frederick W. Thomas. When telling of the sudden disaster that had struck his home, he said plaintively, "You might imagine the agony I have suffered, for you know how devotedly I love her.

If you read all the accounts given by Poe's acquaintances--particularly the male ones--the impression is given that, if anything, his "child-wife" was considered a damn sight too good for him. Certainly, she gave him the only happy, stable, romantic relationship he ever knew, and was the only one among his real or alleged sweethearts who loved him wholeheartedly and unselfishly.

So...given the choice between accepting the consistent word of Virginia's friends, and a lurid, improbable tale presented by a woman who was (as I pointed out in an earlier post) completely deaf since childhood and unable to lip-read, and thus also unable to have had all those intimate Poe-related conversations she described in print, who never even laid eyes on her subject and who was demonstrably untruthful in nearly everything she ever wrote about Poe--who do most modern-day writers believe?

You guessed it. We're given a Virginia who is, at best (in the cruel words of Burton Pollin,) "a friendly kind of animated doll." At worst, she is depicted as frankly imbecilic. (Here I note the honorable exception of Arthur Quinn, who stood nearly alone in rallying to her defense.) The bulk of Poe's biographers have taken the relative lack of documentation about Virginia (a lack which is not surprising, considering she spent most of her adult life as an invalid,) to mean she had no personality at all. The biographers are hard enough on the poor girl, but the novelists are even worse. The image of a puerile Virginia vacuously coughing in the background, and further burdening her already bedeviled husband with an unsatisfactory marriage, has been a staple of endless piles of bad fiction. (The most recent example, John May's offensive and inept fantasy "Poe & Fanny," takes the prize--against admittedly powerful competition--for Worst Poe Novel.) If these novelists and biographers are to be believed, the one notable thing Virginia did in her entire life was to die miserably.

I simply don't believe it. Anyone who could arouse such fear and loathing in the formidable Elizabeth Ellet (see her July 1846 letter to Frances S. Osgood, where Virginia is as reviled as Poe himself) could not have lacked character. (Oh, what I wouldn't pay for a tape recording of that scene where Virginia confronted Ellet with Osgood's letter...whatever happened on that occasion, it's clear Mrs. Ellet never forgave Mrs. Poe for it.)

Edward Wagenknecht, one of Poe's more rational biographers, noted in Virginia's behalf that she "clearly had her share of charm, and a good many persons were impressed by her." This definitely included Poe himself. His August 1835 letter to her and Mrs. Clemm indisputably proves that Poe desperately loved Virginia and was terrified she might reject him--and unlike the round of engagements-a-go-go he was said to have pursued after her death, he could not have had any ulterior motive in seeking her hand. (This letter, incidentally, also dispenses of the popular slander that Mrs. Clemm was using the possibility of Virginia going to live with the family of her cousin/brother-in-law Neilson Poe as a way of manipulating/pressuring Poe to marry her daughter. The letter shows that when Poe left Baltimore for Richmond--before Neilson's offer was ever made--he already saw himself as Virginia's future husband.)

Many biographers interpret Poe's desire to marry Virginia as a neurotic, even depraved urge. One could look at it another way, and conclude that it would take a rather remarkable thirteen-year-old to inspire such devotion in her older, sophisticated cousin. (It is interesting that in this letter, Virginia's youth is never an issue. It must be remembered that in the 1830s, it was perfectly legal for her to marry. As antipathetic to today's mores as it may be, the marriage of a girl so young was then seen as uncommon, but hardly deviant.)
[A footnote: Much has been made of the fact that, on their Richmond marriage bond, Virginia's age is given as twenty-one. This is often used as a tool to further demean their marriage, by claiming this as proof that all involved were embarrassed by her youth. There is a much simpler explanation for this minor deception. At that time, the state of Virginia required all females under twenty-one to obtain an official affidavit of consent from her father or guardian before she could marry. Virginia's father, William Clemm, was long dead, and, in those pre-feminist times, her mother does not appear to have counted as "guardian." (Before the marriage, Mrs. Clemm had talked of Poe himself becoming the legal guardian of her minor children.) It seems obvious that they misrepresented Virginia's age simply to avoid the inconvenience of dealing with her lack of official guardianship, not out of any fear of public censure. The notion that Poe and his fiancee lived in dread of some Richmond busybody trooping down to the local courthouse and inspecting their marriage bond, just to ascertain the age of the bride, is absurd.]

Despite anything Poe supposedly said or wrote about his marriage during the last two years of his life, when he was sadly ailing in body and spirit, and probably resentful at Virginia's ultimate abandonment of him, I am convinced his was a devotion she kept. The most straightforward and sincere lines he ever wrote comprise his most explicitly autobiographical work, "To My Mother."

edgar allan poe to my mother"Annabel Lee" has often been interpreted as a ballad to his dead wife. I question that--the poem well might be completely fictional, although if it is "about" anyone, Virginia is the only woman for whom it could possibly apply. (She was the only one who was his "bride," she alone could be said to have "no other thought than to love and be loved by me," and of course, she was the only one who died.) Be that as it may, the following poem--one of the last he ever wrote--while addressed to Maria Clemm, is truly a tribute to Virginia, and, to me, is even more touching than the more famous poem:

Because I feel that, in the Heavens above,
The angels, whispering to one another,
Can find, among their burning terms of love,
None so devotional as that of "Mother,"
Therefore by that dear name I long have called you-
You who are more than mother unto me,
And fill my heart of hearts, where Death installed you
In setting my Virginia's spirit free.
My mother- my own mother, who died early,
Was but the mother of myself; but you
Are mother to the one I loved so dearly,
And thus are dearer than the mother I knew
By that infinity with which my wife
Was dearer to my soul than its soul-life.

Monday, December 14, 2009

"Lines From an Unpublished Drama"

Edgar Allan Poe
In recent years, Edgar Allan Poe biography has been heavily infested with fevered speculation--writers who have "talked and scribbled themselves into convulsions" as the man himself might put it--about the poetic exchanges between Poe and Frances S. Osgood. Many biographers and novelists, lacking almost any sort of actual evidence about what, if anything, actually went on between the pair, have built virtually everything they know--or, rather, think they know--about the relationship between the two by micro-analyzing their poetry. (I have come across reputed "scholars" and "academics" who claim to find insight into the Poe/Osgood relationship by--I'm not kidding here--literally measuring the distances between their writings published in the "Broadway Journal." Yes, this sort of thing is what passes for Poe scholarship nowadays.)

This is all very remarkable, as Poe's contribution to the so-called "literary courtship" (about which none of their contemporaries, including their spouses, seemed to care, or even notice,) consisted of two of his blandest poems which had already been published several times before, and an 1846 Valentine verse where he pays tribute to the lady by misspelling her name and calling her a dunce. (As I have noted earlier, the revised version of this Valentine poem that he later published calls Osgood a liar.)

According to Sarah Helen Whitman, Poe "allowed"--that was the word she used--those old poems of his to be rededicated to Osgood, at Mrs. O's own request. If this is true--and it does sound like the sort of childishly self-aggrandizing thing Osgood would do--it casts an interesting light on their alleged relationship.

Also lost in all the heavy-breathing pother is the fact that there are only three of Osgood's poems that can be at all confidently regarded as being "about" or "to" Poe. (It should be remembered that Osgood herself put an introductory note in one of her books cautioning the reader that many of her poems were written for inclusion in short stories, and thus illustrate the feelings of fictional characters, not of herself.)Frances S. OsgoodHer "Poe poems" consist of an acrostic incorporating his name, unpublished during her lifetime and, from the textual evidence, probably written early in 1846--not 1847, as has been speculated. (It reads as an envious tribute to his relationship with Virginia, and was clearly written in response to his acrostic Valentine.) Another is a rather trite elegy commemorating his death, "The Hand That Swept the Sounding Lyre." (A side note: In a plagiaristic touch Poe himself would have noted, she "borrowed" the title line from James Bird's "The Vale of Slaughden.") The most interesting of the trio is a poem first published in the "American Metropolitan" for January 1849 under the title, "Lines From an Unpublished Drama," and later expanded into "Fragments of an Unfinished Story." After Poe's death, Sarah Helen Whitman recalled him mentioning the poem as being addressed to himself (the title, reminiscent of his "Politian: Scenes From an Unpublished Drama," likely led him to this conclusion.) This identification is bolstered by a letter of Mrs. Clemm's, mentioning the poem as one addressed to her "Eddie."

"Fragments," judged as poetry, is practically unreadable--thirteen published pages of awkward, semi-coherent blank verse--but as what is probably the most honest account she ever gave about her relations with Poe, it is valuable. She opens with the abrupt lines:
"'A friend!' Are you a friend? No, by my soul!
Since you dare breathe the shadow of a doubt
That I am true as Truth"

And continues:
"What though a thousand seeming proofs condemn me?"
And later:
"Would I were anything that you dost love!
A flower, a shell, a wavelet, or a cloud--
Aught that might win a moment's soul-look from thee"

Osgood goes on to describe him as being not only "blind" to her love for him, but positively antagonistic to her, which she blames on the schemes of another:
"...And after that a cloud,
Colder and darker, hung between her heart
And yours. There were malicious, lovely lips,
That knew, too well, the poison of a hint,
And it work'd deep and sure."

And then:
"...We ne'er have met!...our souls meet not."

..."You have loved often--passionately, perchance--
Never with that wild, rapturous poet-love
Which I might win--and will--not here on earth."

She even concedes that he does not find her attractive:
"...from boyhood, you
Have been a mad idolater of beauty.
And I! ah, Heaven! had you return'd my love,
I had been beautiful in your dear eyes;
For Love and Joy and Hope within the spirit,
Make luminous the face. But let that pass:
I murmur not. In my soul Pride is crown'd
And throned--a queen; and at her feet lies Love,
Her slave--in chains--that you shall ne'er unclasp.
Yet, oh! if aspirations, ever rising
With an intense idolatry of love,
Toward all of grace and purity and truth
That we may dream--can shape the soul to beauty,
(As I believe,) then, in that better world,
You will not ask if I were fair on earth."

(Obviously, Osgood had yet to recover from his comment in "The Literati of New York City" that she was "in no respect" beautiful.)

The poem concludes that in Heaven he will recognize her true worth, and love her, but until then she will proudly keep her love a secret from the world--and him:
"Ay, I would die
A martyr's death, sir, rather than betray
To you by faintest flutter of a pulse--
By lightest change of cheek or eyelid's fall--
That I am she who loves, adores, and flies [sic] you!"

(No, she'll just display to all the world a lengthy poem about the subject instead.)

So, there you have it. Through the medium of an embarrassingly large amount of wretched verse, Osgood announced to one and all that Poe distrusted her, scarcely acknowledged she even existed, and didn't think much of her looks. If we use her poetry as a guide to their relations, as everyone is so eager to do, Poe had no more of a romantic relationship--or even an intimate friendship--with her than he did with Hiram Fuller.

Poe's reaction to "Lines" is unknown. Mrs. Whitman, frantically searching for some excuse for why he should have told acquaintances that their marriage would never take place, theorized that Osgood's poem had moved him to the extent that he was inspired to repudiate his engagement to Whitman. This bizarre notion, however, was only her desperate guesswork, plucked out of the air. She gave no indication Poe said anything to her about the poem or his opinion of Osgood's outreach efforts. (Another instance of the strange lack of communication between him and Whitman.) Certainly, it did not inspire him to contact Osgood. Probably he was flattered. Perhaps touched. Perhaps amused. Possibly, he forgot about the whole thing immediately after reading it. Who can say?

Monday, December 7, 2009


A few random thoughts:

Am I the only one slightly spooked by the fact that Thomas Dunn English named his youngest son--born years after his enemy Poe's death--"Edgar?"
When describing Poe's nightmarish visit to Philadelphia in July of 1849, John Sartain claimed that Poe was on his way to New York. Poe, of course, was traveling from that city, en route to Richmond. This could be just a memory lapse in Sartain's extremely strange--and probably overdramatized--account of his dealings with Poe at this time. However, in 1875, a writer named Francis Fairfield quoted a friend of Poe's named C.C. Burr (who also saw Poe in Philadelphia.) Fairfield said Burr told him that, during what was evidently this same visit, Poe told him of his upcoming marriage to an unnamed wealthy woman. Poe confided that he abhorred the idea of another woman taking Virginia's place, but he was anxious to provide Mrs. Clemm, his "more than mother," with a comfortable home in her old age, and marriage to a lady of means was his only way to do so. Fairfield assumed the woman in question was Sarah Helen Whitman, but this seems impossible. Poe's involvement with Whitman was long over by then. The anecdote could only refer to Sarah Elmira Shelton (particularly since Whitman claimed that after Poe's death, Mrs. Clemm showed her letters from Poe indicating that he was only marrying Shelton for the sake of his former mother-in-law's future security.) The obvious difficulty with this story is the fact that, in July of 1849, he had yet to reach Richmond to launch any sort of courtship of Shelton, much less successfully conclude one.

Is it possible that Sartain and Burr were describing a Philadelphia visit Poe made when returning from Richmond late in September, and that their accounts became confused regarding dates? Such a visit has been hypothesized, but no trustworthy evidence he made it as far as Philadelphia has been found. Sartain and Burr's stories, however, at least hint at the possibility that part of Poe's "lost period"--the five or so untraceable days between his departure from Richmond and his reappearance in a Baltimore tavern--was spent in Philadelphia.


Whatever happened to Virginia Clemm's older brother Henry? The last record we have of him is a letter Poe wrote in January 1836, where his future in-law is described tersely as being "absent (at sea.)" After that, it is as though young Henry had never existed. Many years later, one of their Baltimore relatives told a Poe biographer that Henry Clemm became a sailor and died young and unmarried, but provided no further details.

The most curious part of Henry's brief life is the fact that I have yet to discover any reference to him from his own mother. In the years after Poe's death, Maria Clemm's main topics of conversation were of her loved and lost children--that is to say, Edgar and Virginia. Not one word about her only biological son. Very strange.


Virginia Clemm PoeI find it odd that we have no letters written by Virginia Clemm Poe. The lack of correspondence between her and her husband is understandable. Mrs. Clemm once explained that there never really were any letters between Edgar and Virginia because they were nearly always together--Virginia often accompanied her husband when he left town for any extended period. (A comment on the brief note Poe supposedly wrote Virginia in June 1846: As much as I would like to have some sort of letters between them, we have only a copy of this note that Marie Shew Houghton claimed to have acquired. In the absence of any original manuscript, and keeping in mind Houghton's utter unreliability, I have to be wary about its authenticity.)

However, Virginia must have written letters of some kind to her friends and relatives (we have Poe documents and letters written on stationary embossed with her initials, as well as some decidedly feminine floral paper that must also have been hers,) and it seems unlikely that not one of them has survived.

I wonder if it is possible that somewhere, among some hoard of old family papers, there are letters written by Virginia that have yet to be recognized as such? Few people now would recognize her handwriting on sight, and if the letter was merely signed with her first name, and said nothing explicitly identifying the writer as the wife of Edgar Allan Poe, it could be easily dismissed as being written by an unimportant "unidentified correspondent."

Something for archivists and Poe researchers to keep in mind.


Has anyone else read this letter and found it difficult to imagine (among all its other incomprehensible elements) that Poe--no matter what his mental state may have been--could write "exasperated by ether," instead of what would be the correct, "exacerbated by ether?"

Poe may have had his sins, but they would never have included crimes against the English language.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

OK, Who's the Big Spender?

Edgar Allan Poe TamerlaneThe current big Edgar Allan Poe news is, of course, that auction held at Christie's yesterday. For those of you who failed to cough up the cash, I can inform you that a "Tamerlane" sold for over $660,000 and a manuscript copy of "For Annie" went for--I kid you not--more than $830,000.

Speaking of that manuscript--so help me, when I read about this auction, my first thought was, "It'd be a grand joke on everyone if this turns out to be another Joseph Cosey production, wouldn't it?"